NEW HAVEN – “I’ve been in The Nutcracker for ten years. I started at age seven as a little lamb,” says Gillian Penna who is now playing the Snow Queen in the New Haven Ballet‘s production of The Nutcracker. Recently, she perfected her routine by performing for pre-schoolers at New Haven’s Neighborhood Music School. “I know when I was that young – looking at my teacher – I was like, ‘I want to be like her someday.’ So, it makes me excited to know I’m inspiring them,” she says.
“It’s so important for children and young school kids to have access to performing arts,” says Lisa Sanborn, Artistic Director of the New Haven Ballet, who often leads workshops in area schools, sharing the language and the choreography process. “The first thing we do is listen to the music. What do we hear? How does it make us feel? How does it make us want to move?” she explains.
“The arts are so inspiring, they give this confidence to children,” says Kelsey Paff, a former ballerina and current teacher who organized this assembly so that kids could imagine themselves in the dancer’s shoes. She believes this effort is important at this time when arts programs in schools are being threatened. “You can see a child’s eyes light-up with excitement when they see something like this,” she says.
“When you sit with an iPad or in front of the television, you don’t have a personal connection with whoever you’re seeing on the screen,” says Sanborn, noting a live performance allows kids to relate to other audience members and the dancers who are prepping for upcoming shows at The Shubert Theatre. “It’s a magical holiday tradition and it’s so important for so many families because generations have attended The Nutcracker,” says Sanborn.
Penna can’t wait: “I still get the same adrenaline rush and excitement that I got when I was a little lamb!”
The Nutcracker is playing at The Shubert Theater on December 15th and 16th. Click here for information. On Saturday, News 8’s Jocelyn Maminta
THE NUTCRACKER IS PLAYING AT THE SHUBERT THEATER THIS COMING WEEKEND.
ON SATURDAY, OUR OWN JOCELYN MAMINTA WILL BE REPRISING HER ROLE AS GRANDMOTHER…IN THE 1PM PERFORMANCE.